3 Jun 2022 6:00 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has upheld a circular stipulating that the city's district court employees can be allowed to visit a foreign country only during Summer Vacations, Winter Vacations, Public Holidays and in case of any exigency.A single judge bench comprising of Justice V Kameswar Rao dismissed a plea challenging the order dated January 31, 2022 passed by the respondent, Office of the...
The Delhi High Court has upheld a circular stipulating that the city's district court employees can be allowed to visit a foreign country only during Summer Vacations, Winter Vacations, Public Holidays and in case of any exigency.
A single judge bench comprising of Justice V Kameswar Rao dismissed a plea challenging the order dated January 31, 2022 passed by the respondent, Office of the Principal District and Sessions Judge, whereby it had rejected the application of the petitioner, who held the post of Senior Personal Assistant in the Court of an Additional Sessions Judge at Rohini Courts.
The said application sought grant of Earned Leave for a period of 30 days, by referring to the impugned circular dated August 4, 2018 which stipulated that a court staff can be allowed to visit a foreign country only during Summer Vacations, Winter Vacations, Public Holidays and in case of any exigency.
The wife of the petitioner was in the employment of the Ministry of External Affairs, posted in the Embassy of India, at Harare, Zimbabwe where she was residing with their daughter, aged 17 years.
On September 13, 2021, the petitioner filed an application with the office of the respondent seeking grant of EL for a period of 30 days to visit his family in Zimbabwe, to provide assistance to his daughter for her admission to an educational institution. Vide order dated December 18, 2021, the application was rejected.
The challenge in the petition was thus to the circular dated August 04, 2018 and the order dated January 31, 2022 issued by the office of the respondent on the ground that the same were unconstitutional and null and void.
The Court noted that the request of the petitioner was rejected on three grounds; firstly, it did not show any satisfactory reason; secondly, there was a scarcity of staff and thirdly, he has already availed leaves of more than three years during the period 2017 to 2020 for travelling abroad.
On the contention that the impugned circular discriminates between those District Court employees who wish to travel abroad and those who wish to travel within India, the Court said thus:
"The plea is without merit, in view of the CCS (Leave) Rules on which reliance has been placed by the counsel for the petitioner himself, more specifically, Rule 7, which stipulates in no uncertain terms that leave cannot be claimed as a matter of right. The Rule, in fact contemplates when the exigencies of public service so require, leave of any kind may be refused or revoked by the authority competent to grant it. In other words, even a leave sought to travel within India can be denied/ revoked in the event of an exigency. Hence, there is no violation of Article 14 of Constitution of India, as alleged by the counsel."
On another argument that there was no intelligible differentia and reasonable nexus between the impugned circular and the object sought to be achieved, the Court said that the same was also without merit.
"It is a conceded case that the petitioner is an employee of a District Court. The Courts, supported by the staff appointed, discharge an important public function of rendering justice to the people. It is to ensure that this important public function of rendering justice to litigants is unhindered, that the impugned circular is issued which contemplates that an employee working in a District Court can apply for permission to travel abroad only during summer vacations, winter vacations, public holidays and in case of any exigency."
"Further, objective behind the circular is, as travelling abroad, is always for a larger duration, (in this case the petitioner sought leave for thirty days) such visits must be undertaken during the summer, winter and public holidays. The exceptions to summer, winter and public holidays is, if there is an exigency (subject to the satisfaction of the competent authority), the employee can travel abroad," the Court observed.
It added that in any case, the underlying rule was that an employee cannot seek permission to go abroad by availing leaves, as a matter of right.
"Clearly, there is an objective sought to be achieved by the impugned circular. Hence, this plea is rejected," it said.
The Court said that the impugned circular had applicability to all the employees of all District Courts in Delhi. It also rejected the argument of the petitioner that there was no foundation in any of the Rules of 2012 and CCS (Leave) Rules, which permitted the respondent to impose any restriction on its employees to travel abroad.
"I must state that the impugned circular does not restrict an employee having an exigency, seeking permission to travel abroad when it is not summer vacations, winter vacations or public holidays. The request of the petitioner for sanction of thirty days EL between March 21, 2022 to April 19, 2022 was denied vide the impugned order, as the request of the petitioner did not reflect satisfactory reasons inasmuch as he has sought the leave on the ground of helping his wife in admitting their daughter to a new school and meeting his family members. Furthermore, the establishment/court was undergoing a scarcity of staff and the petitioner had already availed leaves for more than three years during the period 2017-2020 for travelling abroad," the Court said.
Finding no merits in the plea, the Court dismissed the same.
Case Title: RAJESH KAPOOR v. OFFICE OF THE LD. PRINCIPAL DISTRICT AND SESSIONS JUDGE
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 534
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